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China faces dire energy challenges, says energy official

Wang Yumin vows green growth, as Russia and Canada outline plans to meet global needs

China faces “dire” energy challenges  as it tries to lift millions of its people out of poverty and support the aspirations of a burgeoning middle class, a senior Chinese energy official told delegates to WEC 2013.

Delivering a speech to the keynote session, The Energy Trilemma: Policy Solutions to Secure Prosperity,  together with Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and Joe Oliver, the Canadian minister for natural resources, Wang Yumin, the vice-administrator of China’s National Energy Administration, said China’s energy needs grew by 5.8% per year as the economy grew by 10% per year.

“China’s challenges are dire,” Wang said. “There are new sources of demand because China wants to build a healthy middle class. Income needs to double in rural areas, energy needs are high and its important to provide them in a sustainable manner.” He added: “China will engage in low carbon and green growth. Urbanisation will continue, cities will become greener and energy will become more secure.”

Wang said that China would take steps to control demand to protect the environment and reduce emissions of greenhouse gas. “We will control energy consumption. The Chinese government will place strict measures on lifestyles to accomodate green needs,” he said.

Novak, meanwhile, said that Russia’s contribution to solving the world’s energy needs would include more use of its Northern Sea Route – via the Kara, Pechora and Barents seas in the high Arctic – which has drawn fierce criticism from environmental campaigners.

Novak told delegate that Russia was helping international development by extending its pipeline network, allowing it to export greater volumes of oil and gas to consumer nations. “Having the largest energy capacity in the world, Russia can submit for international consideration, the issue of establishing transnational energy infrastructure that would guarantee reliable energy supplies to areas with energy production deficit,” he said. “We are increasing the capacity of the Northern Sea Route and this will allow us, among other things to provide new shorter routes for energy supplies.”

Canada’s abundance of natural resources provided an opportunity to provide energy to meet the demands of the world and an opportunity for investors, energy minister Joe Oliver said.

He told delegates: “My message to you today is that Canada is well positioned to address these imperatives, diversifying our energy market is a top priority for our government,” he said. “Canada has the resources. It has the third largest oil reserves in the world, it is the fifth largest producer of natural gas, the second largest producer of uranium,” he said.

Oliver estimated Canada’s gas reserves at 37 trillion cubic metres and represent over 200 years of production at current rates. However, Canada is keen to start selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) when it develops the infrastructure to do so. “Seven LNG projects on Canada’s west coast have already entered or cleared the regulatory stage and more applications are being considered, including two on the east coast to service Europe and India,” he said. Oliver said he expected that Canada would be exporting 60 million tonnes of LNG by the end of the decade.

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